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Young adults want only one device: the iPhone

Bill Gates may have been right about the future, but Microsoft is not going to provide it. The iPhone tapped into a market that perfectly suits young people in this day and age.

It is not merely that it is a phone, it is not merely that there are thousands of applications (so-called apps), it is not merely that they can access the Internet via phone or Wi-Fi (even walking past a Starbucks or Holiday Inn) — no, the thing that sets the iPhone apart is that you can have one single device that does everything (well, nearly everything) a normal personal computer does. You can send e-mails, read books, listen to your music, watch videos, TV, whatever. All on one device. All on one portable, personal, only-one-thing-not-to-lose electronic gadget.

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When I said Bill Gates was right, I was referring to his prediction that tablet PCs would take over the PC market. Apple believes he is right. Set to launch soon — and being secretly reviewed all over the Internet — is the iTablet with a large 10-inch screen. Basically, it does pretty much everything a small MacBook does, plus it answers the phone and it acts as your in-car navigator (pre-GPS enabled) and it serves as your video/still camera (in fact it can be your in-car back-up camera) — the long list of apps is just beginning.

Leading the top of that list is the reading app, which will kill the Kindle. Yes, it downloads the New York Times. Yes, it automatically finds your music and videos — and through iTunes or any other site you will soon be able to buy any e-book you want, in color, illustrated books as well. The backlist there is phenomenal. I want "The Family of Man," please.

Never mind that Steve Jobs is on record with the dumbest statement I’ve ever heard: "People don’t read anymore." E-books sell, and they need a platform that is not another stand-alone electronic gadget to lug around and risk losing.

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Competition? Sure, but not really from Microsoft, which is foundering on Windows 7 (already there are huge conflicts with some non-Microsoft software, especially huge business software like SAP and Act).

The competition is coming from that other giant, Google: Google Chrome. Google’s Chrome operating system will work on any platform, any Internet capable PC. Google doesn’t load apps onto your machine, it allows you to have free access to any software you want — all of the Microsoft-like office professional suite for example (Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, PowerPoint), saving each user about $500 — via cloud computing.

What’s cloud computing? Basically, it means you connect by clicking an icon and a computer in some far-off distant place (in the clouds, get it?) does the work for you as if it were on your computer. You can already download these free office programs to any desktop, anywhere, free from Sun Microsystems. Why give Microsoft $500 for an upgrade? And, having used them, I have to say they are easier and less prone to crash. Sad, isn’t it?

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So, who will make the physical part of the competition to the ubiquitous new iTablet? Using Google Chrome, to also thwart Kindle, Microsoft and Sony Reader, the current PC tablet manufacturers are scrambling to add cell telephone connectivity. The phone manufacturers (like Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry) who are already toying with Chrome have plans for "larger personal phones." Acer, Dell, Samsung, Fujitsu and others are ramping up to include phone service, making Google’s Chrome work with their hardware. Some are even showing prototype tablet PCs to rival iTablet. I wonder how soon before someone wakes up and calls it the ChromeTablet?

One thing is for sure: There won’t be the portable Microsoft PC tablet/phone anytime soon. Why? Because although Microsoft has the "newest" complicated tablet software with all the glory of Vista and Vista-in-drag, Windows 7, it doesn’t work with a phone system — duh! That’s like offering a car with no wheels.


Peter Riva, formerly of Amenia Union, lives in New Mexico.

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